Kamchatka brown bear cub.
Photo by Ivan Seryodkin, WCS.
The main threats to Kamchatka brown bears include poaching, overharvest and habitat loss.
Poaching for bears is common and driven by the demand for bear parts
in China and other parts of Asia. Estimates for the number of brown
bears poached in Kamchatka range from 500-1500 annually. Rampant salmon
poaching and increasing commercial fishing are also significantly
decreasing the supply of a main food source for brown bears. Local
rangers are under-paid and ill equipped to combat the multi-million
dollar bear and salmon poaching industry.
Hunting for brown bears is permitted under a quota system, which
unfortunately is poorly enforced. Current trophy hunting practices
target large dominant male bears, which changes the social dynamics of
the bear population, and remove as many as 300 bears a year from the
Kamchatka Peninsula. While a potential source of income for
conservation, trophy hunting is largely uncontrolled, and most profits
leave the region. Local hunters also often target bears as a source of
meat for dog food or as a recreational hunting species.
Unmonitored oil, gas and mineral exploration and development are also
increasingly threatening wildlife habitat on Kamchatka. Moreover,
exploitation of Kamchatka’s mineral resources is allowing poachers to
access previously inaccessible areas of the peninsula, leaving in their
wake streams devoid of salmon and therefore bears as well.
Finally, protected areas, which encompass a significant portion of bear
habitat, are poorly funded and under increasing pressure from hunting,
poaching and uncontrolled tourism.